By Lubna Hamdan
The New Zealand mosque attacker requested viewers watching his live broadcast to subscribe to the channel of YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie
Dubai social media influencer DJ Bliss has called on influencers to become ‘more responsible’ and be ‘held accountable’ for their online content, after a suspect at the centre of the New Zealand mosque attack requested viewers watching his live broadcast to subscribe to the channel of YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie.
Kjellberg was quick to distance himself from the shootings, stating on Twitter that he feels "absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
However, Kjellberg, who reportedly earned $15.5 million last year and has a following of 89 million YouTube subscribers, has faced criticism for his use of racist and sexist language.
While DJ Bliss, whose full name is Marwan Al Awadhi, said the shooter’s crime should not be a reflection of Kjellberg, he warned against content that normalises hate.
“In today's world, everything is driven by online content and he used the name of the biggest online creator to attract attention to himself. In no way should anyone else be dragged down by his actions and he deserves full responsibility for this… I believe the shooter used hate and fear to commit this hateful act and unfortunately, had the YouTube presence to showcase his hate but this in no relation and should not be a reflection on the platform, YouTubers or PewDiePEdie,” said Al Awadhi.
“However, this is an opportunity for the online community to start being more responsible in their online content and be held accountable for how they affect their audiences. People, especially adolescents, online are very impressionable and can naively take things out of context or be persuaded that wrong or hateful things are okay," he added. "We need to do better by setting the examples ourselves because not everyone can distinguish between what's real and what's for entertainment.”
The shootings at Masjid al Noor mosque and a second, smaller mosque in the suburb of Linwood, killed a total of 50 people, including women and children.
Al Awadhi said now is the right time for the global online community to use its “voices and platforms to denounce senseless acts of violence like this, and educate our peers and audience that we, as human beings, need to learn to respect and treat each other equally regardless of any differences we may have.”
“We should be able to feel safe in our own homes and places of worship and acts like this should never happen again,” he added.